The Leveson Inquiry recently published its findings into UK press regulation. However Leveson also commented on the UK data privacy rules and the role of the ICO. The data privacy part of the report has been received with almost uniform disinterest (!) but for privacy geeks the detail is worth a read. The Inquiry’s recommendations include:

  • Ensuring that the data subject’s right to compensation for distress under section 13 of the Act is not limited to actual monetary loss but includes compensation for pure distress;
  • Bringing in a (long called for) custodial penalty for the Data Theft offence under section 55 DPA (unlawful obtaining of personal data) already on the statute book but not yet enacted.
  • Broadening the powers of the ICO by allowing it to prosecute for any breach of the data protection principles.
  • Reconstituting the ICO as an Information Commission, led by a Board of Commissioners
  • Tightening up the journalistic exemption under s 32 DPA and limiting the scope of the exemption so most of the Data Protection Principles will apply.
  • The ICO to publish guidance for the press

What is interesting about this is that a lot of what Leveson recommends is already proposed in the new EU Data Protection Regulation. The direction of travel towards stricter data privacy laws is being strenghtened!  

We expect the formal ICO response in January.